UCSD in Second After Series Win

    Junior first baseman Matt Cantele has displayed his power skills throughout the season, jacking six home runs and driving in 33 runs for the No. 12 Tritons, who are now 31-8 overall and 15-5 in league play. (Erik Jepsen/Guardian File)

    BASEBALL — In their penultimate conference road series of
    the season, the Tritons looked just like the team that has climbed the rankings
    to No. 12 in the past few weeks in three of the games, but was shutout in
    another to finish the four-game series with three wins over Cal State
    Stanislaus on April 4 through April 6. With the wins, UCSD is now 31-8 overall
    and 15-5 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, good enough for
    second place in the competitive conference.

    In the series opener on April 4, senior first baseman Chris
    Franco led the Tritons to a 9-6 win by going 3-for-5 with two home runs and six
    RBIs. The win was UCSD’s eighth straight, but the streak was jeopardized as the
    Tritons found themselves down 6-3 after four
    innings. However, a four-run fifth inning gave UCSD the lead and a two-run
    ninth inning padded it before senior closer Keith Noe came in to pitch the
    bottom of the ninth and earned the save, his eighth of the year, tying the
    single-season school record.

    “When Keith takes the mound at the end of the ballgame and
    we have a lead, in all seriousness, everyone feels like we have a ‘W,’” head
    coach Dan O’Brien said.

    The first game of a doubleheader on April 5 did not go as
    well, with the Tritons getting shut out on their way to ending a win streak and
    suffering only their second road loss of the year. Warrior senior pitcher
    Marquis Fleming went the distance and pitched a one-hit gem, walking only one
    Triton while striking out nine.

    On the other side, UCSD freshman Guido Knudson pitched well
    but allowed two solo home runs in the third inning and was chased from the
    mound in a disastrous eighth inning after surrendering an unearned run. UCSD
    ended up allowing four unearned runs en route to the tough 7-0 loss.

    UCSD bounced right back, however, in the nightcap with a 5-2
    victory. The Tritons got a stellar performance from sophomore Matt Rossman, who
    only went five innings but allowed only one earned run in that span and struck
    out 11 Warriors. Rossman picked up the win to improve to 7-2 and Noe came in
    and pitched 1.2 innings to claim the single-season saves record for himself
    with his ninth of the year.

    “It’s more important to me to know that we’re winning
    games,” I’m getting the ball with the lead. It’s easy to pitch when you have a
    lead and you only have to come in for one inning. I really wasn’t worried about
    [the closer role]; I want to get a national championship. And if in the process
    I’m getting saves and I’m doing what I’m supposed to do then that’s fine.”

    After being called upon in back-to-back days, Noe got a
    well-deserved rest as the Tritons had no need for their closer in a 13-2
    blowout win in the series finale on April 6. The teams battled for three
    scoreless innings before the Tritons struck in the fourth with 10 runs on eight
    hits.

    Thanks to his offense, junior starting pitcher Trevor Decker
    had a cushion to work with and shined, not even allowing a hit until the fifth
    inning. Decker stayed on the hill for seven innings and allowed only one run on
    three hits and three walks. With his quality start, Decker picked up his fourth
    win of the year and the 20th of his collegiate career, making him only the
    seventh Triton in program history to reach the milestone.

    “On paper we were playing the best team we’ve played all
    year and that’s when Trevor’s at his best,” O’Brien said. “And I think that
    says a lot about Trevor.”

    Now sitting in second in their league, the Tritons will face
    two CCAA rivals in two series at home over the next two weekends. UCSD will
    take on No. 15 Chico State
    University before hosting first-place and second-ranked Sonoma
    State University for four games starting on April 18.

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